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In 2006, AIGA launched AIGA China to become “China's
partner in design education.” We opened an office, led by director
Amy Gendler, at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. An
American from Omaha, Gendler, who speaks Mandarin, has extensive
experience in both the United States and greater China as a
designer and educator.
Design is an important part of any economy highly engaged in
global manufacturing. AIGA's leadership in design obliges us to
engage with the design and business communities in China.
AIGA China identity.
There are now an estimated 1,430 tertiary institutions with
programs in design (up from only 450 as little as five years ago),
with one million contemporaneous design students in all
disciplines. By comparison, the United States has approximately
40,000 communication design students—and many members worry this is
more than the design economy can absorb.
Although manufacturing in China is a robust economic sector,
there are still very few Chinese multinational brands. We believe
the emerging multinationals will create demand for leading,
user-centered design. And while many Chinese design students are
technically and creatively strong, pedagogy and society as a whole
are not traditionally driven by the innovative approaches that have
characterized U.S. design education for generations. Furthermore,
the design educators themselves have little experience in using
design in the context of free-market enterprise.
This has two implications.
We will work with faculties in China to help them adapt their
curricula to changes occurring elsewhere. This effort will be
reinforced by an online social network for students, where they can
post portfolios and comment on the work of others.
Our program in China will involve developing a comprehensive
directory of design programs in China. Through this project we will
establish a means of communicating with faculty and students, and
enhance our understanding of design education in China, even in
geographically remote areas.
AIGA's “Design Business and Ethics” series of brochures have
been translated in a Chinese edition to be published in June. By
widely and freely distributing this publication in both print and
digital form, we hope to influence designers in China to mature
into a professional community that accepts AIGA's professional
standards as global standards.
In addition, we will establish AIGA China Design Bridge in order
to offer opportunities for exchange between design educators in the
United States and China.
All of these programs and initiatives will be guided by an
18-member Advisory Board, comprising the country's preeminent
design education leaders. The board's kickoff meeting is taking
place in Nanjing on March 28–29.
Some members may question why we are actively engaging with
China while human rights are being challenged in Tibet or in other
contexts within China. However, AIGA's involvement is the result of
an effort to build connections among designers, educators and
students, with the express purpose of increasing understanding on
both sides of the relationship. Our common cause is great design,
professionally practiced. We believe that only through this
dialogue can an understanding between cultures be strengthened.
Just as many members would not want to be ostracized abroad because
of the official policies of the U.S. government, we should not
isolate designers in other countries who may aspire to or share our
values because of their government's policies. And so we welcome
the chance to strengthen international understanding as a means of
advancing our commitment to human rights, not in disregard of
We have received a warm welcome in China among both designers
and businesses, and we are eager to demonstrate the confidence of
leadership by supporting designers in China. We believe that as the
global economy disperses the demand for design to diverse locations
around the world, we must be an active, supportive, integrative
contributor in China as a way of assuring the role of AIGA
designers in the future.
Richard Grefé is the executive director of AIGA, the professional association for design. While guiding all of AIGA’s activities, his most significant contributions are in strategy, formulating new initiatives to enhance the competitive success of designers
and advocating the value of design to business, government and the public.
New York, NY—September 29, 2014. As the definition of
“design” continues to broaden, so too will the scope of AIGA’s biennial
design and business conference. Next month, leading
thinkers-practitioners-writers-educators will converge in New York City
at “Gain” to consider many facets of the design of business for the
New York—September 23, 2014. Next week, AIGA, the professional
association for design, opens “Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist”—a
vibrant and inspiring retrospective of a designer who pioneered New Wave
design while carving his own path from academia to corporate design,
experimental European commissions and AIDS activism in the East Village
art scene. This exhibition is organized and designed by AIGA Medalist
Chris Pullman and Laura Varrachi of LVCK Environmental Graphics with
support from Dan Friedman's brother Ken Friedman.
New York, NY—September 25, 2014. AIGA and Wacom announce the launch of “Rise & Shine,”
a new video series that goes behind the scenes of the diverse practices
of six up-and-coming communication designers. Viewers are invited to
travel across the United States with AIGA, the professional association
for design, and Wacom, the leading producer of intuitive design tools,
to visit a range of talented, emerging designers working today and find
out what fuels their creativity. The series offers a closer look at
everything from creative processes and big career breaks to the
techniques and technology they use to realize their visions.
NEW YORK—September 18, 2014. AIGA, Design Observer and Designers & Books today published results of the 2013 “50 Books/50 Covers” competition. A panel of jurors including Michael Bierut, partner at the New York design firm Pentagram; Jessica Helfand, founding editor of Design Observer; and Peter Mendelsund, associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf Books chose 50 outstanding books and 50 exceptional covers.
This task force is charged with reviewing the role AIGA might play in recognizing, communicating and advocating remarkable design that has emerged from the graphic design tradition—experienced in many media and forms today.
Section: About AIGA -
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